Caron Nazario was driving his newly purchased Chevy Tahoe home when two police officers pulled him over in Windsor, Virginia, whipped out their guns, and started barking orders.
With their weapons raised, the officers demanded that Nazario, a Black and Latino man, get out of the SUV. Nazario looked in the mirror and saw he was being held at gunpoint, then placed his cellphone on his dashboard to film the December 5 encounter. He repeatedly asked to know what was going on. At one point, he even admitted to being afraid to leave the vehicle.
“Yeah, you should be,” one of the officers responded.
Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, was coming home from work and in full uniform at the time.
“I’m serving this country, and this is how I’m treated?” Nazario told the officers, according to his cellphone video.
By the end of the incident, the cops would threaten Nazario, pepper-spray him in the face, and knee-strike him in the legs, according to body camera footage, Nazario’s cellphone video, and legal filings. Later, when Nazario was in tears and on the ground of a gas station parking lot as officers put him in handcuffs, he repeated, “This is fucked up, this is fucked up.”
The officers allegedly told Nazario if he were to complain, they’d charge him with crimes like obstruction, eluding, and assault on a law enforcement officer—potentially destroying his military career.
The incident ostensibly began after an officer believed Nazario was driving on U.S. Route 460 without a rear license plate, according to the lawsuit. While the SUV was new to Nazario, meaning he hadn’t gotten permanent plates yet, he still had a temporary plate taped to the inside of his rear window, the lawsuit notes. The temporary tags are visible in the body camera footage.
Nazario slowed down his vehicle within seconds of the police pursuing him and activated his turn signal. Because it was dark, Nazario also drove for less than a mile—below the posted speed limit—until he reached a well-lit BP gas station, where he pulled over. In all, it took about 1 minute, 40 seconds for Nazario to pull over after Crocker initiated the stop, according to the lawsuit.
Still, the cops claimed in a report Nazario was “eluding police,” had a dark window tint, and lacked plates, so officers treated the incident as a “felony traffic stop,” or a traffic stop they believed to be risky. One of the officers admitted later that they knew why Nazario had pulled into the BP—it happened all the time, and was a maneuver often used by people of color, according to the lawsuit.
Once he was in the BP parking lot, Nazario was ordered to put his hands out of his car window and turn the vehicle off, according to body camera footage. He was also ordered to get out of the vehicle multiple times by both officers as he asked, “What’s going on?”
Lt. Caron Nazario, a biracial Black and Latino US Army man, was brutalized by Windsor, Virginia Police on video on December 5th, 2020.
The police are not your fucking friends.